Wednesday 14th November 2001 22-00 CET
Tear-drops, pearl-drops, dew-drops.
As a youth of 15 years, Gandhi had experimented with definitions of the truth.
Included in these were the forays into 'less than truthful behaviour'. In his
autobiography he tells the story of such an incident of 'untruthfulness' and
it's profound results.
In seeking to help his brother, who had run up a debt of 25 rupees, Gandhi
stole a small piece of gold from his brother's armlet. He used the gold to pay
off the brother's debt. At first sight this was a not unreasonable course
of action...but principles are principles and even as a youth Gandhi had his.
This 'theft' was not mitigated in his mind even by the concept that it was
'for a good cause'. It preyed upon his mind until he reached the point
where he felt he must confess this deceipt to his sick father, for whom
he had the highest possible respect and love.
He could not, however, bring himself to confess to his father directly,
so he wrote it in a note and handed to his bedridden father. Quote:
"I wrote it on a slip of paper and handed it to him myself. In this note
not only did I confess my guilt, but I asked adequate punishment for it,
and closed with a request to him not to punish himself for my offence.
I also pledged myself never to steal again in the future.
I was trembling as I handed the confession to me father. He was...confined
to bed. His bed was a plain wooden plank.
He read it through, and pearl-drops trickled down his cheeks, wetting the paper.
For a moment he closed his eyes in thought and then...tore up the note. He
had sat up to read it. He again lay down. I also cried. I could see my
father's agony. It is still so vivid in my mind.
Those pearl-drops of love cleansed my heart, and washed my 'sin' away.
Only he who has experienced such love can know what it is. As the
who is smitten with the arrows of love
Knows its power'
This was for me an object lesson in Ahimsa. Then I could read in it
nothing more than a father's love, but today I know that it was pure
Ahimsa. When such Ahimsa becomes all-embracing, it transforms
everything it touches. There is no limit to it's power.
This sort of sublime forgiveness was not natural to my father. I had
thought he would be angry, say hard things, and strike his forehead.
But he was so wonderfully peaceful, and I believe this was due to
my clean confession."
When Gandhi was 16, his father died. Gandhi was 56 years old when he
wrote his autobiography.
Some experiences in life are so profound, so important, so essential
to our 'self-knowing'........they are always as fresh in our memory
as the morning dew.
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